Merkel criticises Germany’s state leaders on Covid approach
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And Professor Steffen Weber-Carstens, scientific director of the Divi intensive care register, said in some regions intensive care units were running at 90 percent of capacity. Speaking today, Health Minister Jens Spahn urged the country’s 16 federal states to impose tougher restrictions quickly to try to slow a third wave of the coronavirus and not to wait until a national law on measures is passed.
What we are missing out on doing now, will take revenge in two to three weeks
He told reporters: “The situation in many intensive care units is becoming more critical every day. Every day counts, especially in this difficult situation.
“What we are missing out on doing now, will take revenge in two to three weeks.
“We first have to get a grip on the numbers and break this wave.”
Lothar Wieler, President of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), added: “We have to act now. “We now have to break the third wave, vaccinate now, reduce the contacts now.
“We need another drastic contact restriction.”
Mr Wieler said: “There should only be limited regular operation so that we can create more space for intensive care patients.
“And affected patients should be relocated to less affected regions as soon as possible – before we have to do it hastily.
“We now need the implementation of an effective strategy, we all know this. I appeal to all decision-makers: We now have to drastically reduce contacts again.
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“Then we are in control of COVID-19 – we have to get there and as quickly as possible.“
He stressed: “It is naive to think that we can test the virus away. That doesn’t work, you can see that in many regions of the country.”
Prof Weber-Carstens, scientific director of the Divi intensive care register, added: “At the turn of the year, 50 percent of all fire brigade operations were for secondary relocation of Covid patients.
“The whole thing is already only possible now because we are running an emergency programme in the hospitals in Berlin. It’s an immense burden. And numbers can’t express that at all.”
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In some regions, capacity was down to just ten percent, Prof Weber-Carstens pointed out, adding: “The average size of intensive care units is ten to twelve beds. That means: exactly one bed per intensive care unit is left.”
Germany is attempting to step up its vaccination programme – but Prof Weber-Carstens admitting: “The majority of the population is not vaccinated”.
Mr Spahn’s appeal came as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany jumped on Thursday by 29,426 to 3.073 million, the biggest increase since January 8.
The reported death toll rose by 293 to 79,381, data from the RKI revealed.
Germany is grappling with a more transmissible variant of COVID-19 five months before a national election in which Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives are forecast to suffer major losses.
Frustrated by a failure of some regions to implement tougher restrictions despite rising cases, Merkel wants parliament to grant the federal government temporary powers to enforce coronavirus lockdowns in areas with high infections.
On Thursday, Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz defended the changes to the Infection Protection Act, which include curfews once the seven-day virus incidence exceeds 100 per 100,000.
He told ARD television: “This has helped everywhere, it has been done in many countries around the world – and it has brought the incidence rates down.”
Spahn said Germany’s vaccination campaign was gaining pace.
Roughly 20 percent of the population will have been given at least a first dose by the end of April and all adults should have been offered a shot by the end of summer, he said.
Nonetheless, Spahn cautioned that it would take until the third quarter to achieve group herd immunity against COVID-19.
Germany’s vaccination rate (22.97 jabs administered per 100 people) continues to lag a long way behind the UK’s total (59.08) according to the Our World In Data website.
(Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg)
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